While I continue to write up new material, I thought I’d return to an associate of Philip K. Dick, K. W. Jeter.
Raw Feed (1999): Noir, K. W. Jeter, 1998.
This is the first Jeter I’ve read.
I enjoyed it, but I found it an uneasy and not totally successful amalgam of satire of what some might call “corporate capitalism” — though Jeter doesn’t use the term, horror, and straight sf.
Jeter was a friend of Phillip K. Dick and wrote, in two novels, sequels to Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and the movie Blade Runner and this friendship and work shows up here.
There is the characteristic confusion of humans and their simulacrum in the “prowlers” who evidently serve, in Jeter’s future, as risk-free sexual surrogates who gather sexual experiences in the Wedge and download into human minds.
Unlikeable protagonist McNihil (whose name, a play on nihilism, is the first clue to the satirical nature of the narrative) is, like Dick, an opera buff. German abounds, including an explanation as to the derivation of McNihil’s old job title – asp-head (a German pun on ASCAP – whose copyrights McNihil ruthlessly enforces — translated back to English). A sort of Dick-like (in the sense of a largely ignored and prolific author of paperbacks and lover of music) author and idol of McNihil shows up in Turbiner. (Jeter wryly notes that authors were particularly “mean bastards” in regard to copyrights.) Continue reading →
Until yesterday, I was unaware that Jeter wrote a third novel, Blade Runner 4: Eye and Talon, in this series.
However, given my thoughts on this one and that even a paperback copy of it costs over $70, I won’t be reading it anytime soon.
Incidentally, the Science Fiction Encyclopedia’s Jeter entry says the series makes “use of some original Philip K. Dick material”. I presume that means unpublished material that Jeter saw.
Raw Feed (1999): Blade Runner: Replicant Night, K. W. Jeter, 1996.
While I appreciated that parts of this book were a homage to Philip K. Dick, I didn’t like this book.
I found large parts of it tedious and other parts implausible.
The Martian setting, arid, desolate, and producing people who eventually almost lapse into total catatonia and a new generation of children who seem alien seemed to be inspired – at least as I remember it, by Dick’s Martian Time-Slip.
The talking briefcase – a very Dick touch – I liked with its artificial copy of Roy Baty’s consciousness. I also liked the very Dick-like stage setting of Deckard’s life undergoing a real and fake reprise – and change – in the orbital movie studio where a film recreating his android hunt is being made.
However, the middle part was frequently tedious. Continue reading →
K. W. Jeter was one of the young, aspiring writers, along with Tim Powers and James Blaylock, who hung around Philip K. Dick in his last years.
Amongst other things Dick would do — and Powers definitely says Dick was not, per popular legend, “crazy” — is spin late night conspiracy theories out which would keep the young men in a state of paranoia for a couple of days until Dick would reveal the joke.
Jeter is also the man who jocularly invented the term “steampunk” for the sort of work he, Powers, and Blaylock did early in their careers.
Raw Feed (1999): Blade Runner 2: The Edge of Human, K. W. Jeter, 1995.
This is a peculiar book, unique, as far as I know, in its intentions and starting premises.
There are several media tie-in books that use characters from tv shows and movies. There are also some books that are sequels to other authors’ works. This novel, though, combines both. To further complicate matters, there are two versions of the film Blade Runner. [My box set of Blade Runner films actually has five versions.] Jeter seems to use the original version of the film as the beginning point of his plot.
Jeter drags out all the usual Philip K. Dick elements: conspiracies (I think he outdoes Dick in this regard – more on the par of A. E. van Vogt who inspired Dick) and the tenuous nature of reality and some specific references to the universe created in Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, specifically Deckard’s increasing disgust with killing androids and the nature of humanity and the constantly blurring lines between human and android and the sometimes questionable desire to make a distinction.
The plot is satisfyingly engaging though not without problems. Continue reading →
I decided my science fiction genre education was lacking without reading some of the acclaimed Eileen Gunn.
Review: Questionable Practices by Eileen Gunn, 2014.
Titling a collection “Questionable Practices” is just asking for it.
I, however, am a kind reviewer not given to snarky comments. I will not sacrifice accuracy for cheap sarcasm.
It is a clever title, though. Would that all the stories were clever or funny. Continue reading →